significance of the game Johnny Bright Questions


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History 215
Discussion Questions
I. S. Zebulon Baker, “‘This affair is about something bigger than John Bright’,”
1. What happened to Drake University’s star African American running back Johnny Bright during
a football game played at Oklahoma A & M in October 1951? How did those at Oklahoma A & M
and Drake, as well as the general public in Iowa, respond following the game?
2. What was the significance of the game Johnny Bright played for Drake at Oklahoma A & M in
October 1949? Why was no punishment ever given to Wilbanks Smith for his actions in 1951?
3. What was the reaction when Drake University chose to withdraw from the Missouri Valley
Conference? Why did Drake return to the same Conference in 1955? How truly progressive were
the universities in Iowa in the 1950s with respect to racial equality?
II. John Matthew Smith, “‘Breaking the Plane’: Integration and Black Protest in Michigan
State University Football during the 1960s,”
1. What was the significance of the 1966 football game played between Notre Dame University
and Michigan State University, and the roster that Michigan State played? What was the
significance of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, and how did those in the US South react
to that ruling?
2. How and why did Michigan State football coach Duffy Daugherty and Michigan State President
John Hannah pave the way for significant numbers of African American players to come to their
school? What adjustments and challenges did southern Black players like Charles ‘Bubba’ Smith
face when they came to Michigan State?
3. Why did Notre Dame University have so few African American football players in the 1960s?
Why did the Black football players at Michigan State threaten to boycott in April 1968, and how
was the situation resolved?
III. Longley, Crosset, and Jefferson, “The Migration of African-Americans to the CFL,”
1. What has the traditional explanation been as to why significant numbers of African Americans
chose to play in the Canadian Football League (CFL) after 1946? Who was responsible for
breaking the colour barrier in the CFL and why?
2. What was George Reed’s experience with racism while he was a star running back with the
Saskatchewan Roughriders? What evidence of racism did other African American CFL players
find? What evidence is provided to suggest that conditions in the CFL were, in fact, better than
those experienced in the United States?
3. What evidence do the authors present to suggest that CFL teams in the 1950s and 1960s
should have been employing more African American players? According to the authors, how did
African American football players view Canada and the CFL in the 1940s and 1950s?

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John Bright

bigger than John Bright

significance of the game Johnny Bright

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